Date of Interview
Herb Kohnke was born 6 February 1914 in St. Paul, Minnesota; he grew up in the city and graduated from Harding High School in 1933. He volunteered for the US Army in December 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. A member of the 99th Infantry Division, Herb arrived in Europe in November 1944. He was among the thousands of US troops captured by the Germans during their Battle of the Bulge offensive that began 16 December 1944. Herb was captured the first day, 16 December. Now a POW, Herb spent nearly two months at XIII-C Hammelburg, until mid-February 1945, then was part of a work detail of prisoners sent to a farm near the village of Traustadt, Germany, some eight miles south of Schweinfurt. In the first days of April, with Allied troops nearing this location, the POWs were marched south. On 29 April, the group arrived at the town of Steinbach; two days later, American soldiers of the 99th Infantry Division reached the location and freed the men. After evacuation, return to the US, and discharge in late 1945, Herb got married (October 1945, wife Dorothy) and spent a career in quality control with Brown and Bigelow Company. He retired in 1976. Herb was active with the American Ex-POWs organization, and served a year as state commander.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Herb Kohnke" (2004). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 34.